Online Classes: A Challenge and an Opportunity

THE Government has instructed all schools to conduct online classes. During these sessions, the teachers are connecting with the students remotely and giving lectures and providing study material by using technological aids like Microsoft Teams, Zoom app, YouTube tutorials and WhatsApp broadcasts.

The online classes had started in the first week of April 2020. These virtual classes are being held structurally by following a proper time table which is presided by the school administration.

I want to share the experience of online classes as the concept is new for students living in J&K In particular to those areas that still don’t have internet access.

Poor Connectivity and Resource Crunch

First and foremost difficulty in online classes is that not every student has got a mobile phone or a tab or in other words they simply cannot afford such education.

Second the Internet connectivity here is not such that the desired objectives are achieved in time. It costs a day on 2G where it would cost only an hour on 4G.

The internet  in J&K is the most vulnerable. As per the recent study, the majority of internet shutdowns come from the erstwhile state of J&K. This is the biggest problem as of now students have to face, As the internet remains suspended for security issues or any other reasons for days to weeks to months to sometimes even for a year. Given the situation it is hard to cope up with the same. For some students, the convenience of online courses can encourage poor study habits. Without a set class schedule, as students would have in a traditional course, the temptation to procrastinate may be stronger. With no in-person interactions with the instructor or with fellow students, it can be easy to forget assignments and deadlines unless the student keeps organized. Online courses often require just as much work as traditional college classes, so putting off coursework can leave students struggling when important deadlines approach. This really results in mental harassment to a student.

Online classes are a nightmare for primary students as well. It is the worst experience for them. The lack of in person face-to-face interaction has affected the proper understanding of facts for them. They sometimes don’t even know what they are writing, yet they are compelled to do so in order to complete the syllabus and the burden their teachers face.

Challenge for teachers

Online classes are not less than a challenge for the teachers itself. As it is not an easy job to compile the material and prepare hours long video lectures and then post them without proper internet speed. Often they have to go through disruptions due to some technical issues like application malfunction, slow internet or no internet at all. The applications or software that are being used by teachers to deliver online classes are not fully safe. Even the administration itself has to provide guidelines for safe usage of some apps that caused privacy issues during their usage. This adds to the problems that every teacher experienced and they ultimately have to look for some other alternatives.

Are kids actually learning through this mode?

For children to really get benefited by these classes’ concentration and parental support is essential. Online teaching is an arduous task. We need to appreciate a teacher’s role as well. They are trying their best to make children understand but then there are pros and cons of everything. To shift learning from offline to online mode wasn’t an overnight task. Our valley has been under 2 consecutive lockdowns, the education sector has suffered the most. But luckily this time internet services are working. Our children have been out of schools for about 400 days so they are already lagging behind. For them to cope up with other states our valley schools also introduced online classes. We need to consider both pro’s and con’s of online education. Firstly, something is better than nothing. A parent can’t afford to risk his child’s life by allowing him to join offline classes. So in that case it’s better a child learns something at home. It’s easily accessible. They remain in touch with their syllabus and don’t lose their ‘student’ identity.They still have a routine they need to follow and be available for their online classes and response to the asked queries. But there are still many parents who don’t have smart phones for their children and can’t afford it either. Their children are not able to grab this opportunity of learning online in this pandemic. They lag behind further, these are mostly children from backgrounds who anyway need a head-start because of lack of resources.

Shahid Bhat and Hudaiba Jeelani

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